The future of journalism is online

The cyber revolution is taking its toll on the newsroom, and it is largely affecting female journalists. Could it be back to the kitchen for the fairer sex?

From IPS:

A study by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2006 showed that the number of women executives has stagnated in this sector. "The percentage of women in daily newsrooms increased slightly to 37.7 percent ... 64.5 percent of all supervisors are men. They are also 58.5 percent of all copy editors, 60.3 percent of reporters and 72.6 percent of photographers," the study said.

"Part of the reason could be that women are frustrated with their progress. A 2002 study by the American Press Institute and the Pew Center for Civic Journalism documented a brain drain among women who didn't anticipate moving up in their organizations and thought they might leave journalism," the International Women's Media Foundation report said.

The group Media Report to Women, a provider of information about how media depicts women, cited a 2006 study by the Atlantic, Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, which found a 3-to-1 ratio of male to female bylines.

And the American Journalist Survey, released in 2003 by Indiana University, showed that female journalists' median salary in 2001 was about 81 percent of men's salary of $46,758. The wage gap widened as journalists grew older.

Meanwhile, the state of racial diversity in journalism is just as dismal.

From The National Association of Black Journalists:

Staffing in the nation’s newsrooms declined for the fourth consecutive year and efforts to bring diversity to reporting and editing teams remained a challenge according to the annual census released Sunday by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) at their annual gathering in the nation’s capital.

The number of newsroom employees in 2007 dropped by 2,400 jobs or 4.4 percent when compared with the previous year. Journalists of color left 300 positions, falling to 7,100, according to the 2008 census released at ASNE’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.

But because of layoffs and hiring freezes, the percentage of journalists of color in daily newsrooms actually grew by a tiny margin, to 13.52% from 13.43% of all journalists.

Blacks make up the largest number and percentage of journalists of color with 2,790 or 5.3 percent of the workforce, according to the survey.

That figure has remained near 13 percent for the last four years, illustrating that as the nation’s minority population continues to rise at 36 percent, its newsrooms continue to fail that pace of diversity.

People ask me all the time if I will ever switch careers. But as a black woman journalist, believe it or not, this has not deterred me. I actually think this is possibly the most exciting time in my life.

I was actually resistant to learning new media just a mere four years ago. At that time, I wasn't even sure what a blog was. I said to myself sometimes "blogs will never change the world."

Well, was I wrong.

Not only do I blog at least once a day about the news, I now make money doing it. Not enough to make a living right now, but I am sure a bigger paycheck is around the corner.

I have also made this blog the home of the Global Wire Group, my new media consultanting firm. I spend a great deal of my time connecting with many of you with ideas on how to incorporate online social networkings into your social justice projects.

I also spend time educating citizen bloggers on how to be ethical journalists. A story in yesterday's paper shows why there is a need for this kind of training.

From the Associated Press:

Miami real estate agent Lucas Lechuga didn't expect a $25 million defamation lawsuit when he started a blog to share his knowledge of the local market.

And Wisconsin commodities trader Gary Millitte is so worried about the legal boundaries of writing online that he still hasn't started LakeGenevaNews.com in the eight years since he purchased the domain name.

That's why non-journalists entering the world of blogs are turning to professional reporters for help learning what's libelous, how to find public documents and the difference between opinion and news.

About a dozen would-be reporters navigated the basics of journalism at a recent training offered by the Society of Professional Journalists in Chicago.

The group is planning similar seminars this month in Greensboro, North Carolina and Los Angeles.

Lechuga, who didn't attend the training, said it would have been a good idea. Having jumped into the world of online publishing with a finance degree, he said the claims against him -- which are still pending -- arose from a question of semantics, and he would have chose his words differently if he had a second chance.

"It would definitely have been something that would be worthwhile and I'd (have) been able to prevent this," said Lechuga.

Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., which supports working journalists, praised the effort to offer training to so-called citizen journalists.

"I think that what we're moving toward is some king of positioning between amateur and professional," Clark said.

And then there are the questions:"Aren't you afraid citizen journalists are going to make it harder for you to do your professional journalism job."

I tell them that journalism is a cat-and-mouse game; it is all about who can get the story first and correct.

You see, I think new media will open the door to a new kind of journalism. Unfortunately, the old kind has been saturated by corporate greed and unfairness. As a matter of fact, some of the best news coverage recently, whether its the Obama's "bitter-gate" or Hurricane Katrina, have come from amateur reporters.

This is a new dawn.

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